Federal election shows only 'marginal' boost for women in politics: Equal Voice
TORONTO – A national organization campaigning for gender parity in Canadian politics said the advancement of female representation in Parliament after Monday’s election was “marginal.”
This election saw an increase of 10 women elected federally, meaning only 29 per cent of the House of Commons representation is female – a three per cent increase from the 2015 election, according to Equal Voice, the national multi-partisan organization dedicated to electing women to all levels of political office in Canada.
“Canada – internationally – is not where it needs to be,” Nasha Brownridge, national spokesperson for Equal Voice, said in an interview with CTVNews.ca. “Change in Canada has been incredibly slow and incremental and we need to do better, all the political parties need to do better, Canada needs to do better.”
The data pulled from Monday’s election by Equal Voice shows that women now hold 33 per cent of seats picked up by the Liberal Party, 18 per cent of Conservative seats, 37.5 per cent of seats for both the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois , and 66 per cent of Green seats.
Brownridge said a variety of factors contributed to Canada’ lack of female representation in politics, but a “big one that comes up time and time again is the fact that women, in comparison to men, are less likely to be running in ‘winnable ridings,’” she said. “A large portion of that is because the majority of incumbents are men.”
“A lot of men were incumbents and incumbents have an advantage,” Equal Voice Executive Director Rosie Ferguson said on CTV’s Your Morning. “The research shows that when women or men in ridings, which are winnable for a party, the success is equal.”
Brownridge pointed to a November 2018 study commissioned by the organization to better understand women in Canada’s engagement, or lack thereof, in politics. The study found that “women need to be asked to run seven to ten times before they will agree,” said Brownridge, adding that “ a man is more likely to just jump into the ring.”
Some of the reasons that women listed explaining their reticence to get into politics were “the negativity and online abuse representatives, and especially women face online, familial and personal responsibilities…and the time commitment,” Brownridge said.
The women in the study also “self-identified as less knowledgeable about politics than their male counterparts,” even if they were as knowledgeable, if not more, than their male counterparts, which denotes that a “culture shift needs to happen,” said Brownridge.
“I do believe that all political parties made an effort to increase the number of women nominated, and succeeded in nominating more women than ever before,” Brownridge said. “But as long as men are re-running in [key ridings] there is less room.”
Ferguson added that the “pace of change will be slow” and we won’t see gender parity “immediately.”
Brownridge said there were some notable moments in this election, with Jody Wilson-Raybould being the first female independent MP elected federally, and the Bloc Quebecois adding ten more women to its ranks in Parliament.
Equal Voice has committed to working with the political parties to “actively recruit” women, especially since a minority government means that an election could occur before four years is up, Brownridge said.
“Given the results of last night, the change [in Canada] is marginal and incremental,” Brownridge said. “Canada is 54 in the world for elected women…we can do better than that.”